Nine thoughts for discussion with a pacifist-universalist

1. Authentically thinking beyond what has been thought before and found inadequate would entail thinking that to-be-superseded-thinking through, not merely bypassing it on the almost always false assumption that one has leapt to something new or more essential.  Such authentically-thought-thinking pre-supposes a willingness to follow the thought where it needs to go instead of pre-empting or short-circuiting it in favor of what you want to assert or see asserted, or presume you ought to want – for instance and perhaps most crucially that the will to peace and the will to the good are always and inherently the same thing.

2. “Visualizing world peace” would be a vain and possibly self-contradictory act if allowed to become a diversion from or substitute for acting on behalf of peace.  As a conspicuous public act, presuming to speak on behalf of peace might harm the cause or at some point even become its greatest obstacle –  first if the visualizers become an embarrassment to their cause, whether through the evident hypocrisy of the beneficiaries of a militarized state pretending to defy it merely through a few good works or words; second and especially where, perhaps driven by consciousness of their own inextricable complicity, perhaps by represssion of that awareness, they express, even quietly, an annihilating contempt for the unconvinced that is indistinguishable on its own terms from murderous hatred.  Since every great war is fought in the name of peace, those who imagine themselves to be enemies of war often and easily become its abettors – just as those most ardently attracted to pacifism have often become nihilists or annihilists, leading to the suspicion that it is their own ardency, far more than peace, that transfixes them.

3. For Hegel – in other words within “modern thought” – the nation-state was (or is) the highest level of operative collective organization.  It may very well be (as I have investigated elsewhere) that the globalization of consciousness, which would be a non-denominational and superficially scientific or non-religious way of describing a messianic project, is in part a technological problem or process.  Nuclear weapons and other nuclear age technologies – satellite, digital processor, internet, among others – are in this sense  objective and instrumentalized, concrete manifestations of an imperfectly achieved and not yet fully elaborated global collective, the global collective as its own problem-process.

4. The potential for total collective self-destruction corresponds to and may be co-terminous with any promise of total collective self-realization- not just in theory but objectively and concretely.  One seems to imply the other:  If I can’t destroy myself, then I’m not free, and that would seem to have to go for the collective realized as self as well as for the nation-state or individual.  Hegel and especially Kojève’s Hegel had specific further observations on the experience of overcoming terror, which pre-supposes the production of terror, in the completion, the making real, of the resolution of the master-slave dialectic, seen as the mainspring of (pre-)messianic human history. Until we have disposed of this problem-process, any move beyond it would be mere detachment from history, not action within history (i.e., politics).

5. If we acknowledge, already by and in arguing, that there’s still something to argue about, in other words that there is political work to be done within history, then we are already acknowledging that a transition from the global plurality to the global one is incomplete, assuming that it is actually under way, and not permanently stalled or not to be thought as completable.  The Christian theologians, when trying to describe post-apocalyptic time, faced a by definition impossible task of explaining what would be desirable about an eternity singing praise to God, with all understandable human strivings and interests rendered inoperative.

6. Back here on Earth and in time, even if we try to see what-merely-is in the messianic light, we confront the problem (process) that, while identification with self, family, community, nation-state, and faith, and possibly race and class, have been tested by the limit case – motivating people to absolute self-sacrifice, of own life and of own moral life in taking the lives of others – identification with humanity or “all life” in the abstract has not in the main proved as motivating.  The absolute universal verges on nothingness (is suspended in nothingness) in psychology as well as philosophy, in science as well as religion, mathematics as well as history – is the point/merely virtual or non-existent point where modes of logic and its alternatives become “one”/”nothing,” and where nothing in modern and so-called “post-modern” thought surpasses the thought of the ancients, whether called philosophers or called prophets.

7. Faith and class at least offer universal concepts, but have thusfar failed as universal projects, except in the same sense that nation-state and also race propose universals that emerge immanently from the interaction of diverse collectives.  In this sense commitment to the nation-state would not necessarily constitute commitment to war or to zero-sum competition:  It necessarily implies a single community of nation-states, and under classic or ideal (Jeffersonian) Americanism follows the “federative principle” of liberty, which proposes a kind of gradual erasure of those differences that impede the gradual erasure of differences (…).

8. Whether the recursive absurdity of this project is a “bug or a feature,” the problem or the process, seems to be what we are still determining, another nothingness-universal.

9.  (To be continued/interrupted…)


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15 comments on “Nine thoughts for discussion with a pacifist-universalist

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  1. I’ll have to read this all over the next few days. In the meantime, I will suggest something that I have suggested many times: Ken Wilber’s writings. Remember when I apologized for not putting enough effort into your Schmitt investigations? Well, it’s very hard to have these discourses when you haven’t read Wilber. Instead of trying to paraphrase him here, I will simply encourage your reading of his works with this quote from a Wilberitte:

    Yet instead of dismissing the world of history as illusory (or maya) as do many nondualists (such as the Hindu philosopher Sankara [788-820]), Wilber attempts to explain the evolution of consciousness as a process whereby “God-in-the-making” is externalized in the world of forms. In this sense, he resembles the German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel (1770-1831), who explored the “phenomenology of Geist” or the evolution of Spirit through various historical epochs. (Hegel, although notoriously difficult to interpret, was more likely a panentheist than a pantheistic nondualist.)

    One of the mistakes you repeat does reflect what Wilber called the “trans-pre” fallacy. Most of these numbered statements reflect the mistake and what it basically means is that while it is easy to confuse trans-rational understanding with pre-rational understanding, merely rational perspectives always confuse them.

    • I’ll refrain from offering an offhand consideration on “trans-rational understanding” as a concept – other than to note that “trans-rational” might be superfluous, if understanding needs to be understood apart from or independently of rationality of any theoretical type, and instead ask you again to recommend where to start with Wilber.

  2. It’s good that you refrained because that would be doing what you didn’t like me doing months ago with Schmitt, but worse. So, because it has a whole chapter on the pre-trans fallacy, I recommend “Eye to Eye.” I can also lend you “A Brief History of Everything.”

    • Well it’s already been helpful since I didn’t know the word “panentheism” until just now, though it’s my impression that in general theological discussion it tends to get enfolded within pantheism in discussion of monotheism, sometimes as versions of ideal monotheism.

      One of the reasons I’m still caught up with Schmitt is that the feller I’m still reading through and learning very much from, Giorgio Agamben, is very much concerned with understanding and thinking beyond Schmitt. Agamben draws parallels between Schmitt’s legal-political theories and Heidegger’s philosophical investigations, while calling upon a third figure we’ve rarely discussed here but whose ideas retain great influence especially in recent art theory (don’t hold it against him), Walter Benjamin. I was just coming to the passage in which Agamben has begun to discuss the subterranean Schmitt-Benjamin debate in relation to Heidegger and different attempts to cope with the “a-logical” logically.

      I know how some others have seized upon the idea of the “transrational” – sometimes to good effect, sometimes to bad – and it works within Agamben’s thinking about the “a-logical,” but, as I said, I’ll reserve any judgment, or any predisposition positive or negative, until I see how Wilber deploys it. I have also oftentimes been very attracted to ideas of the transrational, alogical, etc., and don’t think of myself as having taken sides against them.

  3. Here’s Ken at his most recently argumentative. As a blogger, he exposes himself here in ways I think you will find entertaining. In some ways he confounds your 8 points, or 9 points and in other ways reflects them, so I think this is particularly germane to this post…
    http://www.kenwilber.com/blog/show/46

  4. Is there piece in Tibet, and Xinjiang, and Chechnya, no because there is no justice, there, the only real concern is about the Palestinians, and that’s been feigned at least since 1973, when the oil embargo made it necessary to care, The Janjaweed
    need to be blasted back into the Cretaceous period, but Clooney won’t admit that, nor will he take issue with CNOC or Total. which are the real paymasters behind Bashir.

    • Try this one sometime, Miggs:
      Take out everything from your comments except for the names. So this one would go…”Tibet, Xinjiang, Chechnya, Palestinians, Janjaweed, Cretaceous, Clooney, CNOC, Bahir.” Why waste time with the actual words? In every one of your comments–and it is incredibly consistent–there are enough names and places to create an interesting chain.

  5. No, Scott I mean what I said, Zinjiang, the westernmost Turkestan frontier of the Uighurs under Chinese occupation, Nepal,
    the charity case of a Richard Gere, but little actual accomplishment on that score, Chechnya the accursed protectorate of the Bear, going back at least two hundred years,

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